Remembering John Lewis


Published: 7/25/2020 5:49:47 AM

In August 1963, I attended the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (I was still in college). The event is best known, of course, for Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech. John Lewis also spoke that memorable day on the topic of voting rights. At that time, many if not most, African Americans — especially in the South were not registered, or permitted in some cases to vote.

Later in the 1960s, following John Lewis’ lead, I spent two summers in the South, under the auspices of The American Friends Service Committee, registering African American voters. The first summer was spent in Orangeburg, South Carolina where I lived with the Adams family and shared a bed with their 9-year-old daughter, Brenda. She was not pleased to have a “white person” imposing on her in this way.

Years later when Barak Obama was running for president, I wrote to the Orangeburg Times and Democrat urging residents to vote for our first African American president. Brenda Adams Collins saw the letter and called me up in Massachusetts. She had become an award-winning teacher in the Orangeburg school system!

After my summer in Orangeburg, AFSC sent a group of us to New Orleans, La. We did not live with families that summer but lived together in the Lower Ninth Ward. That summer the Vietnam War was raging and our group decided to gather to protest the war. Police arrived, took our names, and I understand that as a result I now have and FBI file!

Now, all these decades later, in honor of the memory of John Lewis, I urge you to join him in making “good trouble.” Register and vote in November to rid us of the president whose niece Mary calls him (in her new book) “The World’s Most Dangerous Man.”

Margo Culley is a resident of Wendell.

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